The Hampden Academy girls soccer team is looking to rebound this season.
Coming off a 5-8-1 regular season campaign in 2018, the man responsible for trying to make that happen is first-year head coach Chris Hink.
Hink has replaced Paul Wellman, who is now the Hampden Academy boys coach.
The Bronco girls are off to a 2-2 start and have allowed only two goals through four games thanks in part to the goalkeeping of senior Adie Hughes.
The athletic Hughes made 13 saves, including a number of glittering stops, in Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to Bangor.
“She has been great for them the past couple of years,” said Bangor senior midfielder Rowan Andrews, who scored with a header off a Meg Putnam corner kick early in the second half.
“She’s fantastic. She’s one of our rocks,” Hink said. “She has such a great knowledge of the game. She understands how the game is played. She understands angles. She puts herself in [a] perfect position to make those big saves.”
Hughes is excited about the potential of the team, which only lost two seniors to graduation.
“This is definitely the most connected team we’ve had,” Hughes said. “Alydia [Brillant] has come back after playing volleyball and has made a huge difference. She has filled the two holes we had at center back.”
The camaraderie of the 12 seniors on the roster is a key dynamic upon which the Broncos are building.
“We’ve been playing together since we were really young,” midfielder Aria Maietta said. “We’re just pulling it all together, getting kind of sentimental and putting emotion into the game.”
Hink was the boys soccer coach at Mount View High School in Thorndike for 11 years before moving to Florida. He returned to Maine two years ago.
Hink likes what he has seen from his players.
“They have been working together as a group and playing some team soccer,” he said. “They have been gaining confidence every game.”
Hink took a job as a math teacher at Hampden Academy two years ago and was one of several applicants for the soccer job, according to HA Athletic Director Fred Lower.
“He has a wealth of experience from his days at Mount View. He has tremendous energy, and he’s always positive,” Lower said. “And I like the fact he is in the building with them so they see him every day. The girls have really responded to him.”
Hink said he is enjoying himself and likes being able to see the players during the school day.
“The girls are great. The parents have been fantastic,” Hink said. “The work ethic is so intense with this group. I love it.”
Hink is relying on the large senior class to provide leadership and experience. He said they are successful when they possess the ball, pass well and find their gaps.
“We’re always one or two connections away from penetrating to get that easy goal. So we’re going to keep working on that,” he said.
The Broncos have a standout in the midfield in senior Sydney Hodgdon.
“She’s smart. She knows how to use her body. She talks well and puts herself in great supporting position for her teammates a lot,” Hink said.
The all-senior back line includes Brillant, state champion distance runner Helen Shearer, Anna Baldwin and Lauren Beckwith.
Junior Libby Hughes, Adie’s sister, complements Hodgdon in the midfield along with Maietta and Eliza Parker. Amelia McLaughlin and Maya Brown are the starting strikers.
McLaughlin and Hodgdon have each scored two goals in the early going.
Senior Kaitlynn Raye has been a valuable reserve.
The Broncos entertain Brunswick on Sept. 24, where they are looking to avenge a 1-0 loss on Sept. 13.